Texas officer involved in fatal shooting of Jordan Edwards has been fired

Posted at 10:16 PM, May 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-02 22:16:13-04

(CNN) — The Balch Springs, Texas police officer who authorities said shot into a car Saturday, killing 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, was fired Tuesday, authorities said.

The officer, who was hired in 2011, “violated several departmental policies,” police told reporters without offering details because the officer has a right to appeal.

Police chief Jonathan Haber told reporters he made the decision after reviewing the findings of an internal investigation. The officer has 10 days to appeal his termination, Haber said.

“The past 67 hours have been challenging for all us,” Haber said. “My heartfelt condolences to the parents of Jordan Edwards, and we support them in their time of need.”

The officer had been placed on administrative leave but hasn’t been charged or arrested in the fatal shooting of the honor student.

The officer’s firing comes a day after the Balch Springs police chief admitted he “misspoke” when he said the car Jordan was riding in Saturday night was moving “aggressively” toward police — leading one officer to fire his rifle toward the car.

On Monday, Haber said body camera footage showed the car was driving forward, away from the officers — not reversing toward them.

“I take responsibility for that,” Haber said. He added that the officer’s behavior “did not meet our core values.”

The Edwards family attorney has praised the police chief for owning up to his mistake.

“Before the chief made the retraction of the statement, he stopped by and he spoke with the family,” Edwards family attorney Lee Merritt told HLN on Tuesday. “I give him much respect for being brave enough to do that on a national platform. It may be embarrassing, but we need to change the culture (so) our officers don’t cover up.”

‘A loving child’

In a statement released Tuesday, Jordan’s family’s described him as “a loving child, with a humble and sharing spirit.”

“The bond that he shared with his family, particularly his siblings, was indescribable. Not only have Jordan’s brothers lost their best friend; they witnessed firsthand his violent, senseless murder,” the statement said. “Their young lives will forever be altered.”

The Edwards family also asked the public to refrain from protests and marches at this time as they prepare for the slain teenager’s funeral and try to cope with the loss.

“What we desire only second to having our beloved Jordan back, is JUSTICE FOR JORDAN,” the statement said.

How the night unfolded

Officers broke up the house party in response to reports of underaged drinking. One officer fired a rifle into the car as it was driving away from the party. Jordan, the front-seat passenger, was struck in the head.

Balch Springs police spokesman Pedro Gonzalez said the terminated officer was the second officer on the scene. The first officer who responded is still employed.

Gonzalez said officers were looking for the owners of the house when shots were allegedly heard in the area, creating chaos right before Jordan was shot.

Haber declined to confirm whether any shots were confirmed to have been fired or whether the boys in the car were armed, citing the ongoing investigation.

The officer fired three shots into the car, Edwards family lawyer Lee Merritt told CNN, based on eyewitness accounts from the other boys in the car.

Jordan’s 16-year-old brother and their three friends were detained and questioned, but the boys were not arrested nor charged, Merritt said.

Attorney: ‘There’s more than enough probable cause’

Both the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office have launched criminal investigations into the shooting.

Merritt said the officer should be treated like any other citizen — and therefore should have been arrested by now.

“We have a dead 15-year-old with no causation on his part or anybody of the vehicle,” the attorney said.

“If justice is to be had, by now a warrant should have been issued. There’s more than enough probable cause to arrest this officer.”

Merritt said the teen’s death is a call to action against excessive police force.

“We are declaring (a) war on bad policing,” Merritt said at a news conference Monday. “America, throughout the country, must figure out a way to police its citizens without killing them.”